Redefining Healthy and Five Easy Wins for a Happier Healthier You

Redefining Healthy and Five Easy Wins for a Happier Healthier YouThere is much said at the moment about the echo chambers we live in, and how they’re making us too insular.

It’s a bit of a contradiction though, because we’re also told that in order to live a happy life we must surround ourselves with like-minded people. Ones who share our values and contribute to our joy, not steal it.

However, in order to grow and truly flourish, we must never stop educating ourselves. We mustn’t be afraid to go against the grain, and not follow the crowd.

This means stepping out of our comfort zone, and exposing ourselves to (sometimes) uncomfortable truths. We then have to be willing to take those truths on-board, and make them beneficial to ourselves and our families.

We need to talk about the elephant in the kitchen: Sugar

There is little more annoying than being given conflicting information on what constitutes healthy eating. For years we were told that fat was evil should be avoided at all cost. It was hugely advocated that we should buy ready made fat free products, even though we now know they are loaded with sugar and/or artificial sweeteners.

This might be a revelation to some, but it’s the fat that makes the food taste good, and natural fats are great for us. It has recently come to light that the sugar industry have been manipulating us for years.

After my PCOS diagnosis in 2007, I was told by two doctors that I’d need fertility treatment to conceive. Not happy to just resign myself to this information, I did a ton of independent research. I found that there is a strong link between PCOS women, who are insulin resistant as I am, and type two diabetes. Bottom line was, if I didn’t get a handle on my sugar intake, then I would likely not see an improvement in my symptoms. Worse still, I could end up with diabetes later down the line. This awesome Ted Talk goes into depth about insulin resistance.    

redefining healthy and five easy wins for a happier healthier youFiguring I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain, I set about changing the way I ate. The first step was completely cutting out refined sugar, and replacing it with natural alternatives. I also excluded all pre-prepared food, unless I was eating out.

I’d never felt as healthy, but the best thing was falling pregnant with Polly in October 2008. Even though it meant buying a new wedding dress, I was more than happy to get married with a bump. Two more naturally conceived pregnancies followed within four years, and I don’t for a second think it was coincidental.  

If we want to be truly healthy, it is up to us, as individuals, to take control of our own health  

If we want to live a healthy life, we have to nourish ourselves well, which means making our own food out of fresh ingredients. This might seem like a major inconvenience in the short term, but it quickly becomes the norm. A friend of mine has a great saying.

“If it’s important, you’ll find the time. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”  

We also have to be prepared to take a long hard look at the way we ‘treat’ ourselves. You only have to walk into a coffee shop to see that most people think nothing of having a slice of cake with their latte. Everything in moderation is wonderful for those who are able to show restraint, but most people I know will openly admit that they eat far too much sweet stuff. The fact is, it’s highly addictive, and very difficult to break free from. 

I can safely say that I noticed a world of difference both mentally and physically once I started eating less sugar and processed carbs. Food is medicine, and the sooner this becomes common knowledge the better 💗

Five easy wins to reduce your sugar intake, leaving you feeling truly healthy

Get your body burning fat in the morning

According to this recent article, most children start their day by eating a sugar laden breakfast. I’m sure the same is true for many adults too, and I’m almost certain that they are getting hungry way before lunchtime. When we eat sugar for breakfast, because it’s so addictive, we will chase our next hit of sugar all day long.

Eating fat and protein instead will get our bodies burning fat as it’s fuel, which keeps our blood sugars level. It’ll also help us not have mood swings, and keep us fuller for longer. Check out my recent post with some ideas for truly kick ass breakfasts.

Redefining Healthy and Five Easy Wins for a Happier Healthier You

some of the food I eat on a regular basis

Stop drinking sugar

We’ve all seen the infographics, detailing the shocking amount of sugar contained in a can of fizzy drink. But what about the shop bought juice made from concentrate?

What about the flavoured coffees with tons of syrup in them? What about the milkshakes and energy drinks that I see older school children drinking every day? None of these drinks will hydrate us, but they will almost certainly see us riding the blood sugar roller coaster.

Diet drinks are just as bad, as they almost always contain harmful chemical based sweeteners. Even freshly pressed fruit juices and smoothies contain lots of natural sugar, so should be limited. Ultimately it’s best to drink water. Sorry if that’s boring, but it’s true.       

Avoid supermarket free from products like the plague 

Having allergies and intolerance mean that you can’t eat certain things, and always have to miss out on the exciting food. I rode the merry-go-round of misery, otherwise known as exclusion diets, for years. It started in 2002 when I cut out dairy, and over the course of the next decade, I became intolerant of many different foods.

I learnt very early on not to trust supermarket free from products. Not only do they usually cost a small fortune, they are more often than not poor quality from a nutritional point of view. It sickens me that desperate people on exclusion diets are being ripped off as much as they are. If you need to eat free from, it is, without doubt, best to make your own food. 

Check out the Free From Fairy’s gluten free, rice free flour blend. Which is super versatile, and makes free from baking as easy as if you were using a wheat based flour. Vicki also has a ton of information on her site about living gluten free, as her daughter is a coeliac.            

Scrutinise every single label of every single product you buy

I will never understand why so many people choose not to read the labels when they are buying their food. It literally astounds me. When Polly was diagnosed allergic to corn and all it’s derivatives, when she was two and a half, I had to learn a new language. Corn is cheap to produce, and high fructose corn syrup is sweeter than table sugar. Therefore, it is used a lot in processed food, because lets face it, sweet things taste great.

Here’s the thing though, it’s not just corn or maize that you have to be aware of, if you want to exclude it from your diet. Corn comes in many disguises, and is often sneaked into a product several times. Check this list out for all the ingredients they derive from corn – it’s exceptionally eye opening. A good rule of thumb is this: avoid ingredients that you can’t pronounce the name of, because chances are they aren’t going to be good for you.

Get in the kitchen

There are no quick fixes or massive shortcuts, but there are things you can do to save time. Batch cooking several meals and freezing them (if you have the space) is a great way to lower stress when you’re starting out. Soups, stews and curries are ridiculously easy to throw together in one pot. Keep it as simple as you can at first, then get adventurous once you have more time.

You really don’t need to have tons of money to be able to cook. In fact I save a fortune by making all our food from scratch. Check out my food archive, which has tons of recipes in it.

I’ll leave you with my fail safe beef stew. I defy you to cook this meal and tell me that (a) it didn’t taste great, and (b) wasn’t silly easy to make!

Proud to be a Member of the Sugar Police

sugar policeHi, my name is Reneé, and I’m a fully fledged member of the sugar police! This confession won’t come as a shock to those who know me, or those who have been following my blog for some time. I’ve written before about my relationship with sugar. I started reducing my refined sugar intake almost a decade ago after being diagnosed with PCOS, and have been Paleo (no grains or sugar) for four years now.

Shocked by the natural sugar content

As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed yesterday, I came upon a new Deliciously Ella recipe for Easter scones. They looked quite tasty so I watched her video, but was put off by the oat flour base. The next video that popped up on YouTube was for her chocolate ganache cake, which had me drooling it looked so damn good. I went and checked my ingredients cupboard, and with exception of maple syrup, I had everything else. Figuring I would substitute it for honey, I set straight to work on making the cake, but planned on reducing the sugar.

Ella’s recipe calls for 225ml maple syrup in total (which is described as 11tbsp + 4 tbsp, not given in ml). I was going to add 5 tbsp to the cake, and 2 tbsp to the glaze, but after putting in the first 2 tbsp I knew I couldn’t go through with even my reduced plan, because it would still be so much more sugar than I would usually add to a cake. I also suspected that the almost entire bottle of maple syrup was what made the cake so yummy. As I’d already added everything to the blender at that point I whizzed it all up, poured the batter into the tin, then popped it in the freezer raw. What I’d created instead was amazingly tasty, dairy free fudge, containing just 1-2g of sugar per square.

Cakes should be a treat, not a daily necessity

Here’s the thing that we just don’t seem to be getting on board with: natural unrefined sugar is still SUGAR! Now, of course making your own food in any capacity is better for you than opening packets from the supermarket, which not only contain processed sugars, but also more often than not, a shed load of other unnecessary and unnatural ingredients. When it comes to cakes, the more natural the ingredients the more nutrient dense it will be, which is a big win. I’m sure that Ella (and her team) would argue that her desserts are meant for special occasions, and not everyday elevenses, but how many of you can put your hand on your heart and say that you only eat cake once in a blue moon?

This article is not meant to vilify Ella, I truly applaud anyone who turns their physical health around with good nutrition. Having done the GAPS Diet, I know how hard going it can be. I’m writing it because looking through my Instagram feed, I feel like I’m a lone voice. I can see a whole load of pretty pictures, and not much sense being spoken. So many bloggers seem to be jumping on the ‘sugar free’ bandwagon, posting gorgeous mouth watering recipes which contain almost as much honey or maple syrup as the amount of sugar you’d need to bake a regular cake with. There seems to be a lot of noise being made by people who don’t know a huge amount about food. 

I’m not claiming to be an expert, I’m just a mum who is trying to feed her family well. My last recipe for chocolate brownies have just 1½ tbsp of honey in the batch that serves 6-8 people. We need big celebrities endorsing recipes like this in my opinion.

Natural or not it is still SUGAR people! Until we get used to having MUCH less of the sweet stuff, nothing will change!

Whose with me?

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